Strong English language and communication skills are essential to the success of newcomers to Manitoba.
Past immigrants who have successfully established themselves as permanent residents say that the key to successful settlement is improving their English language and communication skills as quickly as possible. If you’re thinking of moving to Manitoba, good English communication skills mean you have a better chance to obtain better jobs and a higher standard of living.
Please see the Resources for English Language Learners in the Resources section of this website to help support your learning.
What is job-ready English?
Job-ready English means having sufficient English skills to perform your job in Manitoba. Job-ready English is more than just getting by. Good English communication skills – in listening, speaking, reading and writing – are essential to successful integration in the workplace and in the community.
Employers do not usually ask job applicants for their Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), but the hiring process of most businesses includes an informal assessment of how well you can communicate in English. A self-assessment checklist has been created by the Government of Canada that allows you to make an estimate of your language skills using the Canadian Language Benchmarks.
All applicants to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program must have job-ready English. For applicants who are not currently working in Manitoba in a job categorized as NOC 0, A or B in Canada’s National Occupation Classification, you are required to demonstrate your language proficiency by uploading in MPNP Online the results of an MPNP-approved language test.
Find out the classification of your occupation by looking up your job title using Job Bank (also select your destination community in Manitoba).
English is the language of the workplace in Manitoba, Canada
If you intend to continue working as a professional in Canada, your English skills must be good enough to:
- understand occupational licensing criteria and processes
- participate in pre- and post-arrival programs and services
- write a Canadian style resume and cover letter in English to highlight your past education and work experience
- be successful in face-to-face job interviews where you must describe your skills
- prove you have the English proficiency required to do the job
Every application for Canadian immigration made through an economic immigration program is, in some way, unique. One thing that the majority of principal applicants share in common, however, is the experience of proving language ability.
Manitoba, along with the federal government and other provinces, uses the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) to measure English language proficiency. The MPNP recommends that skilled workers score a minimum of CLB 4 in listening, speaking, reading and writing before applying. For many professions, that minimum level will be even higher. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada also assesses applicants for permanent residence to ensure they have job-ready English in their assessed occupation.
A minimum standard of official language proficiency in either English or French is also set by the federal government for applicants for Canadian citizenship.
Employment-readiness and Settlement Programs
In Manitoba you are expected to find your own job. Manitoba offers programs and services – before and after you arrive – to help you make a personal action plan to empower you to succeed.
You will need to learn:
- where to look for job openings
- how to assess whether you have the right skills and education to compete for a particular job
- how to apply for a job
At work in Manitoba, you need to understand workplace health and safety guidelines, and you will also need to speak with supervisors and co-workers. You may also need to participate in meetings and write reports and memos. Each of these tasks requires good English skills and an understanding of the communication terms used in your specific workplace.
Find out the required, and recommended, English communication skills and/or CLB levels specific to your occupation by looking up your job title, with your destination in Manitoba, using the Government of Canda Job Bank. Helpful information is available under the Education & Job Requirements tab.
How your Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) translates to your occupation and your job duties
Note: The following summary gives a general informational description only and does not represent specific industry standards or take into account specific employer job screening criteria.
CLB 1 – 3: Entry level jobs with little or no language demands may be available to you – for example, working as an office or hotel cleaner with a supervisor who speaks the same first language as you, or a dishwasher or kitchen helper with someone on staff who speaks your first language. You may be able to get a factory job at a manufacturing industry or at a food processing plant or bakery if there are other employees and supervisors already there who speak your language.
CLB 4-6: You may be able to get a job such as a child care assistant or home care worker working with the elderly or as a hospital cleaner. Jobs that may be open to you include counter help in a fast food restaurant, cashier, food server or assembly-line manufacturing. You will need at least CLB 6 to work in a retail position or as a security guard or bus driver.
CLB 7+: Child care educator and health care aide positions may be available to you, as well as most trades. At CLB 8+, you will be able to compete for most professional jobs.
Learn new skills to plan your career
Often your technical skills will get you a job. However, good soft skills are needed to keep the job.
Soft skills are inter-personal workplace skills such as getting along with others, fostering good relationships, fitting in and making people comfortable. Culturally appropriate English language usage will help you demonstrate good soft skills.
In addition to language skills that can be measured by a test, employers are looking for people who have personal characteristics that are needed for the job. For example, someone applying for a job in a helping profession might get the job over someone else with higher CLB scores if they demonstrate that they know how to connect personally during an interview.
There are meanings and nuances in English conversations that need to be understood. The language used to persuade, disagree, interrupt and join in small talk, for example, can come across as angry, rude or awkward if you do not know English well. Your tone may convey the wrong message if you are not aware of the Canadian way of saying something.
For many internationally educated skilled workers, tradespeople and professionals, feedback from supervisors may be not clear. Canadian managers often try to sandwich negative comments between positive ones. They often try to soften the remarks and provide criticism in an indirect polite way, so if you aren’t aware of this very Canadian way of communicating, you may not even notice that you have been warned.
Communication is very complex and only by being immersed in the local language and culture can one really begin to become aware of and understand all the important nuances.
Improve your English before and after you move to Manitoba
The better your English language skills are, the faster you will be able to establish yourself at work and in the community. Some reasons to spend time improving your English immediately include:
- You will need English skills to obtain services (community, government and business services).
- You will need English language skills to register your children in school and to support them in their education.
- Your interactions with public and private services in person, on the phone or on line will all be in English. English is used at stores, at banks, on the bus, in health care facilities, at the library, with a real estate agent, lawyer, counsellor, or consultant, etc.
- English communication skills are needed to engage socially with others and participate in community activities.
- You will need English language skills to participate in civic processes, exercise your rights and fulfill your responsibilities under the Canadian laws, the roles of police and the justice system.
- Basic responsibilities, such as insuring your car and paying taxes require English language skills to fully understand the system.
- Through English media (TV, radio, newspapers, Internet) you can understand currents issues in the city, province and country. You can become involved in politics, community affairs and volunteerism.
You will find that many neighbours, classmates, co-workers, and other newcomers will support you in settling, and good English skills will make it possible for you to connect with these people. Lifelong learning is an important Canadian value and your strong English skills make joining sports, recreation and leisure activities or classes easier and will help you make new friends, as well as share your passions and hobbies with others.
Words of advice for Manitoba-destined immigrants
- Do not overestimate your English language proficiency or underestimate the length of time and effort it takes to become communicative in English. It takes approximately 500 hours of full-time study to improve by one Canadian Language Benchmark.
- Recognize that many Canadian English speakers do not easily understand people who speak English from other countries. What you may consider to be excellent English in your country may be dismissed here by employers as too hard to understand. Even if you have high CLB or IELTS scores, consider registering for advanced level English classes or a Pronunciation class in Canada – it might make the difference in getting a job in your profession.
- If you intend to apply to the MPNP, you will need valid official results of an MPNP-approved language test. Visit the Language Proficiency page of this website for more information.
- Many people assume that they will be able to get by with the English they have or that they will pick it up quickly and easily. Realistically and critically assess your own English language skills now using the Canadian Language Benchmarks Can-Do Statements.